No one likes them, but everyone must take them. Whether it’s an exam in high school or college, tests are imperative to the learning experience. It’s a way for educators to know that attention is paid to their lessons and is used to evaluate a student’s knowledge. Test-taking is a skill; sometimes it comes naturally, but in other cases, it is an ability that has to be taught and learned. Here are a few tips and tricks that will improve your test-taking abilities.

It starts in the books

Taking a test and successfully passing is almost impossible without studying the materials. Having a realistic study schedule will help you work around other responsibilities you may have. Ask your teachers, professors, or other educators for a predetermined schedule, use a planner to jot down days that you have tests, and assess your schedule to determine what days you should study and how much you should study (depending on the size and importance of the test). We understand that it’s unrealistic to put aside everything else just to study. Though it may seem tiresome and endless, taking time to go over materials will help you immensely.

Flashcards for the win

Everyone learns differently. Whether you’re a visual or auditory learner, there are methods of studying that will benefit any type. It’s good to understand what will help you study and retain materials the best. Making flashcards to quiz yourself with can be useful for students who learn better visually. For a visual learner, keeping a “test notebook” with lots of visuals, diagrams, highlights, and arrows that cover the material can be very beneficial. Studying with a friend can be beneficial for someone who doesn’t get distracted easily.

Don’t let time manage you

Managing your time is an important part of life, not just test-taking. Having prior responsibilities while working around your school schedule can be difficult, but quite possible. Knowing when to study and when you’ll have time to study is obtained through the skill of time management. It can be easy to believe that you are “too busy” for schoolwork outside of the classroom; without it, though, it’s extremely possible to fall behind and forget what you learned during the day. If you have a test to study for but have unnecessary plans made, ditch the plans for the textbook. You’ll thank us in the long run. It’s best to ditch the all-night cramming sessions and instead take a more gradual, measured approach.

Reconsider multitasking

We often think doing more than one thing at a time makes us more efficient, but studies show it actually negatively affects results. Eliminate distractions by unplugging from technology including social media, gaming, texting, etc. Multitasking actually causes you to need more time to learn the material and retain it. If you don’t need your computer to study, don’t use it. It can be too tempting to answer notifications or to take a short social media break that turns into an hour or more. Give yourself a set study time amount and then reward yourself with a timed social media break.

Change your location

Find several locations to study and change up where you go if a location isn’t working as effectively as you need. One location may work well in the morning and not so well in the evening or one location may be too quiet and you work better in a more active environment like your local coffee shop. Having multiple places to choose from also gives you options to choose from if you find one of your spaces just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Finding the right way to study can be daunting, but it plays a key role in how you’ll retain information. Using methods that play to your strengths will allow you to do better on exams and keep your grades up. Just don’t get overwhelmed and take it one study session at a time.